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A Royal Entanglement: The Young Royals, #2

A Royal Entanglement: The Young Royals, #2

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A Royal Entanglement: The Young Royals, #2

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Länge:
322 Seiten
4 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Sep 9, 2016
ISBN:
9781536556148
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

*Revised Edition*

On the day of the new queen's coronation, a man from Lady Alexandra's past turns up unannounced in Merveille.  Lord Frédéric intercepts him and discovers that Alex had left this man at the altar six months prior and now he had arrived to claim her.

Alex hasn't told anyone the real reason she left everything she had worked so hard for in the States to move to Merveille and take up the position of Queen Alyssa's personal assistant.  But now the main reason for her flight from the US has turned up on the palace's doorstep and she is backed into a corner.  The only person that she can think of to help her is Freddie, but she worried that getting too close to him might just do more harm than good.

The last thing Freddie wants is to get entangled with a woman.  He liked to keep his options open, but now that he has returned to Merveille for good, his mother is trying her damnedest to get him married off and producing the next Bingham heir.  When Alex asks for his help, he is only too eager to help her and maybe get his mother off his back in the process.  He never expected to fall for her.

This is a Sweet Romance - These are romantic tales without the bedroom scenes and the swearing, but that doesn't mean they're boring

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Sep 9, 2016
ISBN:
9781536556148
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

I am a business owner, artist, cook, mother and wife.  I live on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia with my wonderful husband, two beautiful sons, a dog and a cat (both of which are female because, hey, we needed to balance all that testosterone!) I am a ferocious reader with eclectic tastes and have always wanted to write, but  never had the opportunity due to one reason or another (excuses, really) until finally taking the bullet between my teeth in 2014 and just making myself do it. I love to write stories with heart and a message and believe in strong female characters who do not necessarily have to be aggressive to show their strength.


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A Royal Entanglement - Emma Lea

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Chapter 1

Frédéric

I stood in the doorway and watched the American pace. He looked like hell. His suit, although expensive, was rumpled and his hair looked like he’d been running his hands through it constantly. He needed a shave and probably a few hours’ sleep. A couple of fingers of brandy probably wouldn’t go astray either.

This was the man Alexandra had been going to marry? I couldn't imagine her with him. Okay that was a lie, I could; I just didn't like the image. Alexandra had that straight laced, conservative look about her and I knew that when she stood beside this man they would look like the perfect couple. But I had recognised something else in Alexandra that most people probably didn't see - there was a touch of wild in her.

I smiled at the thought of telling her that. Alex would deny it and she would get that cute little crease between her eyebrows that I itched to smooth away. She would deny it, protest that she was anything but wild, but I knew better. Alex may have hidden it deep, but it was there and I knew I could bring it out of her.

And I really wanted to bring it out of her.

But that little project would have to wait. The coronation was today and Alexandra was swamped with all of her responsibilities. The last thing she needed right now was that man in there turning up to claim his runaway bride.

And why the hell had it taken him six months to find her, anyway? If the guy was so broken up about her leaving him at the altar, why hadn't he come sooner? Well, there was only one way to find out.

I stepped into the room and the man immediately stopped his pacing, turning to look at me with narrowed eyes.

Who're you? he asked with a sneer.

Lord Frédéric Bingham, Earl of Avonlea and you are? I stepped forward, not offering my hand and mustering all the haughty, highhandedness that I could channel from my parents and my upbringing in the royal court.

Bradley Corsair, he replied, Am I supposed to bow to you or something?

I laughed, No, of course not. I do have a few questions for you though, I said stepping closer, Why don't you take a seat.

I'd rather speak to Alex, he said, still standing.

I smiled sympathetically at him, I'm afraid that isn't going to be possible, especially not today.

Bradley sat heavily on the antique settee. He wasn't a big man, but he was solid and he seemed to take reasonable care of himself, his jet lag notwithstanding.

How was it that you managed to get onto the palace grounds? I asked knowing that both Von Bartham and Benjamin would have a fit knowing he had gotten past security.

I followed a crowd of press in, he replied without thinking.

They didn't check your identification? I asked, annoyed that after the recent troubles with security in the palace that it had been so relatively easy.

He shrugged, There was a bit of a crush and I kept to the middle of the pack.

I nodded. Do you know what is happening today? I asked.

Uh, he looked around the room to get some kind of clue as to why a crush of press would be entering the palace grounds en mass. Not really, no, he replied, I really just needed to find Alex.

I studied the man before me. He did look rather distraught, but not exactly heartbroken. There was something else that was making him edgy and nervous, and I really didn't think it had anything to do with Alexandra.

Do you know what Lady Alexandra does here in the palace? I asked.

Um, some sort of secretary? That's what she was back home, anyway.

I had to hold back the snort of disgust that threatened to escape. Alexandra was so much more than a secretary, even before she had become the queen's personal assistant.

Her role here is a little more than that, I replied, picking at imaginary lint on my pants. Alexandra was probably in panic mode right now wondering where I was, but I needed to get this matter put to bed before this buffoon started stomping through the castle and making demands. Which is why you won't be able to see her today. I'm sure we can find you some comfortable accommodation and set up a meeting in the next couple of days.

No, he replied standing, a wild look in his eyes, I need to see her today, now.

I'm afraid that's simply not possible, I replied calmly, staying seated and not reacting to his spike of anxiety.

Why the hell not? His voice had risen, and he had resumed his pacing.

Returning to my earlier question Mr. Corsair, do you have any idea what today is?

I told you already, he said turning to me, I have no idea what today is.

And you have no idea what Lady Alexandra does here in the palace?

No, I do not.

I stood with a sigh and an apologetic look on my face, Today is the coronation of our new queen, I said, And the reason you cannot see Lady Alexandra is because she is the queen's personal assistant and will be a little too busy today to deal with you.

He sat with a thud back onto the settee and I winced with the impact on such a delicate piece of furniture.

I suggest you take me up on my offer of accommodation and a meeting at a later date.

He looked up at me, There is no accommodation, he said, I've checked.

I just smiled, Leave it to me, I said, summoning one of the hovering palace staff.

Find Dayne and ask him to organise somewhere for Mr. Corsair to stay. Dayne was my own personal assistant, and the man was a whiz at getting things done, And maybe notify Benjamin to have someone escort Mr. Corsair to his lodgings. I hated to do it to the queen's personal security team leader, but he needed to be apprised of the situation. I turned back to Bradley Corsair.

Now, if you will excuse me, I said making a show of looking down at my watch, I have somewhere I need to be. Dayne will be here any moment to get you settled and I will contact you tomorrow about setting up an appointment to meet with Lady Alexandra.

I didn't wait for his nod before I left the room. I was already late and Alexandra would be in a fit, but that was nothing to what she would be when she found out about her visitor.


Alexandra

I froze as I felt the heat of him on my back. I knew who it was, how could I not? I had been obsessing over the man for the last six months despite trying to deny it. He had gotten under my skin from the very first meeting and, try as I might, there was no way for me to shake him. And he seemed to know it.

We need to talk, he whispered in my ear and I only just controlled the full body shiver that threatened to rattle my body. His warm breath on my ear, his scent, his body so close to mine that if I leant back, just a little, I would be pressing up against his firm chest.

I cleared my throat, trying to get my vocal cords to work.

I'm a little busy right now, I managed to squeak out.

Tonight, he said, As soon as you can get away.

I hardly think it is appropriate... I trailed off, my mind wandering to places that they shouldn't especially when I was in the middle of a coronation.

You're going to want to talk to me, he whispered, leaning closer, his hand brushing my shoulder lightly, his lips skimming the shell of my ear.

I closed my eyes against the onslaught of sensation and swallowed hard. The things this man did to me without even touching me. I took a deep breath...bad move, my nose was now full of him, the smell of him overwhelming me.

Meet me in the Rose Room, he said, It's important.

I opened my eyes as he stepped away and noticed a change in the demeanour of the security personnel in the room. It was subtle, but there was definitely a change and it was enough to put me on high alert.

There were always threats against the queen, but in the lead up to the coronation they had increased in both number and ferocity. She had been kidnapped a few months earlier by someone who no one had suspected capable of such a crime. Since then, security had been overhauled and increased, although to most people it didn't look it. Most people assumed that now the immediate threat had passed, security had returned to normal, when in fact it had just gone more covert. There were extra security around the castle, they just weren't the visible type.

I turned to talk to Freddie, to ask what was going on, but he had moved away and was conferring with his sister, Meredith, on the other side of the room. She was also part of the queen's security detail, but her role had changed somewhat over the last few weeks, not unlike everything else. She now served as The queen's second assistant as well as being part of her security.

The two women had been together a long time and Meredith knew the queen better than anyone else, so it was a good match, even if it did leave me feeling a little like the third wheel at times. Not that they hadn't tried to make me feel welcome and included; both Meredith and Alyssa had fully embraced me into their clique, along with the four other women who made up the queen's ladies in waiting. But there was a special bond between Queen Alyssa and Meredith that couldn't be replicated.

Freddie chose that moment to make eye contact with me and he gave me one of his secret smiles. One that had my pulse rate skyrocketing and my skin flushing. And he knew it too. His eyes widened as he catalogued my response and his grin got wider.

He was incorrigible.

Not that I would have him any other way. I might not openly admit to being flattered by Freddie's attention, but I couldn't lie to myself. Not that it mattered. Freddie flirted with anyone in a skirt and the fact that I hadn't fallen at his feet like most other single women (and some married ones too) only seemed to egg him on. He liked the chase and the thrill of cornering me and getting me flustered. I knew that as soon as I started to respond positively to any of his advances, he would lose interest.

So while outwardly it looked to everyone else that I really wasn't swayed by his charm, inwardly I relished every little bit of it. It may never go anywhere, but it did make me feel good. And if playing hard to get meant that I remained in his sights, well then, that wasn’t such a bad thing.

Freddie winked at me and I turned away so he wouldn’t see the smile on my face or the flush that crept into my cheeks. Meredith had warned me that Freddie was an irrepressible flirt, but it was one of the things I really liked about him. He’d charmed me from the moment we met and even though I knew I needed to keep myself from falling for him, it was flattering all the same. Freddie was a good looking guy and I liked spending time with him.

And he was a good distraction… and I needed that. I needed something to keep me from thinking about the reasons I had come to Merveille in the first place. The offer from the palace had come at a time when I needed an escape and I jumped at the opportunity. Now I was waiting for the other shoe to drop because I knew there would be consequences for my actions. It was just a matter of time before they caught up with me.


I held my breath as I looked at the queen, refusing to let myself cry at the sight. She wore a white, floor-length gown that was unadorned. Over the gown was a simple, white garment that fastened in the back. Over that she wore a floor length, crimson velvet coat with a train and an ermine cape. Her hair was piled on top of her head in soft, loose curls and her makeup was understated. Princess Alyssabeth looked regal, if a little nervous.

Wow, I breathed as I walked towards her, You look amazing.

She grimaced and Lord Will Darkly, Duke of Camphrey and Alyssa’s fiancé, laughed beside her.

She’s not a fan of all the layers, he said in explanation.

It’s heavy and hot, she said and I smiled.

I had learned that working for Alyssa was not what one would expect when working for a reigning monarch. She hated the fussy traditions of her office and no doubt removing those that annoyed her the most would be the first thing on her agenda as queen.

Benjamin, Alyssa’s head of security, came into the room. Are you ready? he asked, and I nodded.

I moved forward to usher Alyssa out of the room. We paused at the top of the stairs, forgoing the elevator for the sake of tradition, while the royal photographer immortalised the moment for posterity.

Will stepped up and took her arm as we made our way down the stairs and into the foyer. The walls were lined with the palace staff and I was pleased to notice a few of them with handkerchiefs blotting the tears from their eyes. This was a big day, and not just because it was a coronation. Alyssa would be the very first female head of state in the history of the Merveille monarchy.

Outside the palace doors an ornate gilt edged carriage waited. Two white horses were harnessed to the front of the carriage and the tall crimson plumage attached to their heads shifted delicately in the breeze.

Will took one side and Frédéric took the other side and together they escorted the princess down the stairs. A footman opened the door and Will handed her into the carriage. Both Will and Frédéric were dressed in full royal regalia, as was I and the other members of the princess’ entourage, which included sashes, stars, and coronets. It wasn’t very often that we got to break out all the fancy stuff, and it was a sight to behold. Freddie looked particularly appealing in his sharp tuxedo with the red sash of the Order of St. Catherine and his medals of service.

He turned and winked at me before climbing into the carriage after Will. The two of them, the Duke of Camphrey and the Earl of Avonlea, would escort the princess into the cathedral for the service. The Cathédrale Saint-Etienne de Calanais had been the sight of every single coronation in Merveille, having pre-dated the monarchy by several decades. It was an impressive sandstone building with large stained glass windows, tall spires that reached up to the heavens in supplication and hand worked wooden beams and archways.

When the carriage pulled away from the palace steps, escorted by a bevy of police and other security, I herded the rest of the entourage into their respective cars. We would arrive first as the royal carriage had to make a circuitous journey throughout the streets of Calanais letting the citizens know that a new monarch was about to be crowned, not that anyone was oblivious to the fact.

Meredith, Savannah, Jeanette, Margaret, Priscilla and I were driven to the church in a convoy of black BMWs bearing the royal flags and with our own police escort. The streets were lined with the citizens of Merveille, many who had travelled from the outlying villages to be here for the coronation. They waved their flags and threw flowers at the cars as we passed.

Our cars bypassed the line of limousines that were waiting to disgorge their passengers on the steps of the cathedral and headed around the building to the back entrance. I ushered everyone out and we moved into the church, taking our seats in preparation for the service. We each had a job to do during the service and I made sure everyone had their itinerary at hand.

The new bishop greeted me as the original bishop had been stood down due to his inappropriate behaviour that had come to light during the recent troubles in Parliament. The new bishop was younger, but I had every confidence in him. I had met with him an interminable number of times in the lead-up to today.

I fidgeted and paced as the cathedral began to fill with the lords and ladies of Merveille. The day seemed to both crawl along and race away unchecked. It was like being on a rollercoaster. At the moment I felt like I was in the front of the coaster as we climbed the steep incline, chugging along slowly, and yet I knew that when we reached the top, the coaster would speed down the other side and everything would be out of my control. I just hoped that all the track had been laid correctly and was secure.

The entrance music began to play and there was a rustle of clothing as everyone stood and turned to watch our almost-queen walk into the sanctuary.

I exhaled as the world seemed to pause and with the next breath everything sped up and became a blur.

Chapter 2

Frédéric

I watched Alex surreptitiously as the service progressed. It was long, with many parts and traditional readings and speeches and oaths, but I couldn’t help the way my eyes were drawn to her. Alex played the part of the puppet master, but to everyone else, she was merely part of the queen’s entourage. I knew better. Like a really good puppeteer, she made you forget about all the strings she was manipulating and drew you into the action on the stage. But I knew how hard she worked to pull all this together, and I was impressed. The woman was amazing.

And she looked breathtaking. Alexandra was a gorgeous woman; petite, blonde hair, big blue eyes and full lips. Her gown was a pale blue and strapless, leaving the creamy skin of her shoulders bare. The skirt was long and full and the side was swept up to reveal an underskirt embroidered with flowers. It suited her, the gracious and stately outer shell that had a hidden depth. I really wanted to peel back her layers and find the woman underneath.

By the time the last oath had been spoken, and the queen had been crowned, Alex looked exhausted and a little shell-shocked, but there was still a whole lot more to go before the day was over. We made our way to the carriage, which had been changed while we were inside the cathedral and was now an open air carriage. Will helped Alyssa to climb in, and I climbed in after them and sat beside the new queen with a grin. It was a little squashed, but it was tradition. Alyssa wore the crown and her crimson robes had been changed to the royal purple of her station.

Will stole a quick kiss and I pecked her on the cheek. I could only imagine how she must be feeling.

You doing okay? I asked as the carriage began to move.

She huffed and laughed, Yeah, she said, squeezing my hand.

Big day, I said and she nodded.

I shared a look with Will. Alyssa was never this reticent.

You okay princess? Will asked.

You can’t call me that anymore, she said and I let out the breath I didn’t realise I was holding.

I will not call you queen, Will said with a laugh.

She smiled and I further relaxed. I knew the journey thus far had been a hard one. Not only had she lost her brother and father, but she’d also fought Parliament over her right to ascend, and then there was the trauma of being kidnapped by someone she’d thought was a friend. Through it all she had held strong and had made us all proud.

Okay, she said, You can still call me princess, but not in public. I have a rep to protect.

I snorted. There she was, the Alyssa we had all grown to know and love.

The carriage wove through the streets and we waved at the happy, smiling people lining the roads. There had been initial backlash to the thought of having a female head of state. As the people had gotten to know Alyssa, she slowly won them over… especially the female half of the population. Her initiatives to give women the equality that their foreign counterparts had been enjoying for years had won her some very avid supporters.

I miss Jacob, she said, suddenly serious again.

Will took one of her hands and I took the other and squeezed gently.

He would be so proud of you, I said and Will nodded.

You know he would, he said.

She sighed, I know, she said, I just would’ve loved to have his counsel over the last few months. You two have been wonderful, but he’d been living in my father’s shadow and he would’ve had so much more insight into things.

We were silent for a while as we each got lost in our thoughts about the late prince. He and Alyssa were different and would have ruled with very different styles. Not that one was better than the other, just that they were different.

Okay, enough sadness, she said, Today is a good day.

I grinned at her. I’d been working closely with Alyssa as she prepared to take the crown and she constantly surprised me with the way she could cope with the pressures that surrounded her on a day-to-day basis. I think Will had a lot to do with keeping her grounded and he had become a friend too.

So what is the first thing the queen will do as head of state? I asked cheekily.

Did you know that Queen Victoria’s first decree was to demand an hour completely alone?

What? I laughed.

Apparently she had been constantly surrounded her entire life. She had never ever been left alone and so when she was crowned, the first thing she demanded was an hour of absolute solitude.

Is that what you want princess? Will asked gently.

She shook her head and smiled, No, she said, I’ve become very good at demanding alone time.

So what is the one thing you want? I asked.

Chocolate, she said, and I laughed and shook my head.

Your fiancé has a contract with the best chocolatier in the world and you feel deprived of the stuff? I asked.

I’ve been on a diet, she said, I had to look my best for the coronation. The camera adds ten pounds don’t you know.

Jonathon sent you a very special box especially for your coronation, Will said and she glared at him.

And you’re only telling me this now? she asked.

He shrugged, It was giving up chocolate or giving up cheese and since your consumption of Pemberton Cheese is what keeps the business afloat, I had to deny you the chocolate.

I do not eat that much cheese, she said, horrified.

Will just raised an eyebrow at her and I shook my head with a smile.

Okay, maybe I do, she said sulkily, But Jonathon sent the chocolates to me, for me. I demand you produce them right now.

"Ah, we’re

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